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Tuesday, 16 December, 1997, 00:03 GMT
Prague led Gypsy sterilization policy - Czech weekly

Romany women in the former Czechoslovakia were paid to be sterilized in a government programme to promote "a healthy population" between 1958 and 1990, the Czech news agency CTK reported on Monday, quoting the Czech weekly `Tyden'.

It said the programme was coordinated by the Health and Labour and Social Affairs Ministries and government commissions for the gypsy population.

Romany women were paid for undergoing sterilization, which were irreversible until 1972.

In 1988 alone, some 28m crowns (835,000 dollars) were paid out to Romany women in the Czech region and 26m crowns (775,000 dollars) in the Slovak region, the report says.

Although Romanies officially form 2.5 per cent of the population, Romany women represented 22 per cent of all sterilizations taking place.

The magazine said one woman was threatened by a social worker with having all her children removed to a children's home if she was not sterilized.

Another 27 year-old mother was offered 6,000 crowns (200 dollars), two or three times the average monthly wage at the time, to be sterilized.

Now 35 years old, the woman is suffering from depression after having her womb removed, the report found.

The Czech Office For The Documentation And Investigation Of The Crimes Of Communism, investigating the issue, said it was not impossible that there was a connection between the approval of the 1958 sterilization guidelines and a law the same year making it illegal to lead a nomadic life - the communist regime's first attempt to assimilate Romanies.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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